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UPDATE 3 - Lebanese gov't 'resigns' over Beirut blast outcry

UPDATE 3 - Lebanese gov't 'resigns' over Beirut blast outcry
Death toll rises to 163, protesters angry with response to disaster clash with police, storm officials buildings


By Zehra Nur Duz, Ali Abo Rezeg and Safiye Karabacak

ANKARA/BEIRUT (AA) - Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Monday accepted resignation of the government and designated outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab as a caretaker premier.

The move came amid public outrage over last week's devastating explosion in the capital Beirut.

Director General of the Presidency Antoine Choucair said in a press conference that Aoun thanked Diab and the ministers and "asked them to continue conducting duty until the new government is formed."

On Monday, Health Minister Hamad Hassan told reporters that all Lebanese Cabinet members submitted resignations to the prime minister to convey them to the president.

Earlier in the day, Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm and Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni stepped down. Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad and Environment Minister Damianos Kattar quit on Sunday.

Six lawmakers have also resigned from the 128-member parliament in protest over the devastating explosion that killed at least 163 people, and injured 6,000 others. Approximately 300,000 people have been left homeless.

Communications Minister Talal Hawat, and Ghada Chreim -- the minister of displaced -- said in the meeting that the government's resignation has become “inevitable."

A powerful explosion rocked Beirut Port on Tuesday after a neglected stockpile of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse ignited.

Ammonium nitrate is a chemical substance often used to make bombs and commonly used in fertilizer. Terrorism has been ruled out as a probable cause of the explosion.

The explosion, which rocked Beirut to its core, shattering buildings miles in the distance, came at a time when Lebanon was already dealing with a severe financial crisis, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Protesters have taken to the streets with violent anti-government demonstrations for the past two days, storming official buildings and clashing with police.

* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat.

source: News Feed
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